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Former NCO spent 12 years as civil service weapons instructor

Joe Grandonico, who passed away Feb. 23, was a 12 year veteran of the 45th Security Forces Squadron as a civil service weapons instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of the 45th Security Forces Squadron)

Joe Grandonico, who passed away Feb. 23, was a 12 year veteran of the 45th Security Forces Squadron as a civil service weapons instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo courtesy of the 45th Security Forces Squadron)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Security Forces Squadron recently lost an important member of their team.
Joseph Grandonico, a civil servant with 12 years at the squadron, passed away Feb. 23 at the age of 68.

A retired Master Sergeant with 22 years of active duty service, Mr. Grandonico joined the 45th SFS in October 1998 as the Combat Arms Manager and Lead Training Instructor. There, he was responsible for providing training and weapons qualifications for the men and women of the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners.

His reputation, experience, and knowledge were such that Headquarters Air Force Space Command called upon him to aid in the development of the first-ever night vision M-16 Survival Reaction Course. His talents were called upon again to provide vital input during the rewrite of Air Force policy for Combat Arms Training and Maintenance. During his time at the 45th Security Forces Squadron, Mr. Grandnico would also brief many distinguished visitors on security operations and weapons systems, including former Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James Roche.

During the 2008 Guardian Challenge Mr. Grandonico was a major factor in the success of the wing's team winning the Schriever Trophy as the "Best Space Launch Wing" in Air Force Space Command for the third consecutive year. Under his guidance, the Security Forces contingent placed first among nine highly competitive teams in Combat Marksmanship, significantly contributing to the wing's overall success.

He also played an integral role in training the men and women who secure critical national space and spacelift resources. During the transition of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Security Services Contract, Joe ensured 140 personnel were trained and qualified with two weapons systems in just two weeks - testament to his dedication and commitment to mission success. More importantly, Joe was instrumental in training personnel who were preparing for deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Throughout his tenure as a civil servant, Mr. Grandonico received numerous awards and recognitions, being named Headquarters Air Force Space Command Security Forces Civilian of the Year in Colorado Springs, Colo.; the 45th Security Forces Civilian of the Year, and 45th Security Forces Squadron Civilian of the Quarter several times.
Mr. Grandonico trained thousands of Airmen, Department of Defense civilians, and contractors in various weapons systems, ensuring all personnel were fully prepared to perform their missions.

"I feel incredibly honored to have had the privilege to work with Joe," said Tech. Sgt. Turkessa Mike. "He shared his job knowledge freely with anyone willing to learn and would often offer a bit of 'senior wisdom' to us young NCOs on various life issues. Joe was not just a co-worker to me; he was also my friend, a friend I will dearly miss."

(Information for this story provided by Sharon Young, 45th Security Forces Squadron)